lighting options for 180g tank - The Planted Tank Forum
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post #1 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 03:25 AM Thread Starter
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lighting options for 180g tank

I'm thinking about converting my 180g reef tank to a planted fresh water tank. I already have a CO2 system for my calcium reactor. The tank is a 180g Oceanic ReefReady. I run stand pipes in the overflow boxes and would continue too, this skims the surface without a lot of agitation, since the water only drops an inch or so into the overflow boxes. If I've been reading correctly, only mechanical filtration is necessary(done in the sump). Will need a recommendation on pumps to return water to the tank. I currently have 3 1000gph pumps on the reef, don't think that will work for a planted tank! Anyway, I have two options for lighting. The reef tank currently has 3 - 140W VHO on an Icecap 660, and 2 - 250W MH 6500K Iwasakis. The tank has a large glass center brace, 5/8" thick glass, so the center will be shaded no matter what. Which lighting would be best? I LOVE the look of the MH lights, but it would be 500W of MH, versus the 420W of VHO. The 250W Iwasakis have an absolutely outrageous PAR value, about the same as most other 400W MH bulbs! Any input would be appreciated!
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post #2 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 03:43 AM
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Metal Halides would look great. I am not sure of the wattage needed for a 180 but I would think that 2 250 watt metal Halides would be enough if coverage is adequate. I would like to see some pics of your setup. Did you run the MH and VHO in your reef? If so what was your electric bill?!!?
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post #3 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 02:51 PM Thread Starter
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I run both the MH and VHO's on the reef tank. The MH are centered over the openings on the left and right of the center brace, both in Spiderlight parabolic reflectors (which are awesome! ), mounted perpendicular to the length of the tank (front to back). The VHOs are mounted two in front and one behind the reflectors running parallel to the length of the tank. Gives me just shy of 1000W on the tank. The Iwasakis are extremely bright for 250W MH's, just don't have the awesome bluish color of a 20000k bulb, they have a very natural sunlight look, which on a reef tank appears slightly yellowish/greenish, but are true daylight bulbs. I used to have a picture posted on the web of my setup, but the site is gone .
The MH bulbs are mounted 18" in from the ends, with the Spiderlight reflectors adding to the spread of the light. The ends of the tank are bright! The center of the tank gets a shaded V because of the HUGE center brace that comes on an Oceanic RR tank. About 18" wide, 5/8" glass. Causes light concerns, but WOW, Oceanic can build one heck of a tank! I have a 55G Reef in my bedroom, so I'll continue to Reef it up! But the high water temps and power consumption is extreme, I get about 2g of evaporation a day. I get constant condensation on windows in the winter, and can get mold around the windows.
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post #4 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 06:50 PM
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How long is your tank? I don't personally use MH, but the posts I've read seem to indicate that a MH pendant is good for about a 2ft x 2ft area. You may want to add a 3rd MH if your tank is 6ft. Or you could use some different lighting in the middle of tank.

I'm using a 150 gal AGA reef ready tank. I'm using a mag drive 5 pump, which is giving me around 300 gph with my plumbing. I think this may be a little under what I would like so I'm probably going to upgrade to a mag drive 7 and restrict the flow with balls valves in the return if necessary. Either that or a I may put a power head in the aquarium somewhere to get a little better water movement. You may be able to run one of your 1000 gph pumps and just restrict the return line some. If that's too much, then drop down to a smaller pump.

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post #5 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 08:21 PM Thread Starter
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In general, a MH will cover a 2'x2' area. A parabolic reflector will change this equation drastically. A good parabolic relector will add an additional 30% or so more light into the tank. It will also spread the light over a bigger foot print. My tank is 6' long, with the MH mounted 18" from the ends. This puts 18" to either side of the bulbs that would need light, with 36" between them. At the bottom of the tank, the light cast by the MH overlap in the middle. I used to have a picture that actually showed this, but website is gone. The bigger problem is with the center brace. I don't really mind the lower light area under the brace, not all of my corals could withstand the MH + VHO lighting, and do much better under the glass brace getting only direct VHO through the center brace. I just consider it different light zones and landscape accordingly. My concern is more with algea growth, I assume the MH will be PLENTY of light, but will algea be a concern? Will the VHO be ENOUGH light?
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post #6 of 6 (permalink) Old 09-02-2004, 10:05 PM
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You actually don't need that much light for such a tank. The metal halides would be an overkill in this situation. It's a bit more skewed than in reefkeeping, and you don't need as much light in a large tank versus a smaller tank (e.g. less light per gallon needed between a 180 gallon versus a 55). Running those VHOs would be perfectly fine for just about any plants that you wish to place in there.

I would run just two VHOs right now as you're going through cycling and planting to thwart off an algae bloom and once it has become established, bring the 3rd one into play (depending on what kind of plants you're keeping, you can even get away with two of those VHOs). Only thing that you have to check out is what kind of bulbs you're running on those VHOs (e.g. no actinics or 20Ks).

Dave, you might want to reconsider using another brand of pumps instead of that mag 7 for circulation. They're notorious for malfunctions (leaks and impeller problems to name a couple of them). You're getting away with the mag 5, but you're gonna regret going with the mag 7 (I have 1 mag 5, 2 mag 7s and 2 mag 9s).


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